Zabit Magmomedsharipov may not be a house hold name, or even an easy name for most people to pronounce. But it is a name to keep on your radar as an up-and-coming fighters.
Magomedsharipov hails from Dagestan, Russia, and trains under striking coach Mark Henry at Team Ricardo Almeida BJJ. He was the Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) featherweight champion with a record of 12-1. Only two of his wins came via decision. Magomedsharipov is a fun fighter to watch, his last six wins have not gone past the second round. He is a tall fighter for the featherweight division, at 6’2, giving him a large reach, and size advantage.
In May of 2017, the UFC signed Magomedsharipov, which many people have been calling for over the past couple of years. I had the chance to speak to Henry about Magomedsharipov. This interview actually took place prior to Magomedsharipov signing with the worlds top MMA organization.
Q: You coach many top contenders currently in the UFC, so how did Magomedsharipov get brought to your attention? Secondly what was your first reaction to seeing him train or fight?
A: I met Zabit through Timur Valies, one of our guys who has split time with us and Jackson’s for four years. Timur trains with Zabit and Timur has helped out Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes for so many of their fights, and vice versa they have helped Timur for his fights. Also Ali who manages many of our fighters such as Frankie, Marlon, Timur and many others. They thought this would be a great place for Zabit to train.
I watched Zabit spar with all of our guys and I was blown away I had never seen someone like him before. I like to say you always see a football player or baseball player who people say are naturals. Zabit is the first MMA fighter I can say is a natural. He just does everything so well. We get people in our gym who watch him and saw wow, and agree that this kid is a natural.
Q: Do you know when we will see Zabit defend his belt next?
A: Zabit’s managment is currently in talks to get him signed to the UFC. I beleive Zabit is one of the best in the world right now, and he could definitely win the title today without needing time to adjust. We believe the UFC is where Zabit needs to be, and where he will be next.
Q: Magomedsharipov is not the biggest name in North America, what would you say to fans to get their attention to watch him?
A: First, once he signs with the UFC, fans will see how big of splash he will make. Zabit has a big following back in Russia which would follow over into the UFC. We have pushed him to grow his social media with Twitter and Instagram, which is a way for him to reach fans. I believe that just like how Khabib Nurmagomedov has sky rocketed, I know Zabit will do the same.
Q: Has Magomedsharipov transitioned to living full-time to the US?
A: Zabit is still very young, and has lots of family back in Russia. He was here for about four months and just went back for a little bit. Zabit is still going back and forth between the US and Russia at this point in time. Hes a young guy and its tough to be in a new country away from your family for long periods of time.
Q: Is there a language barrier? Is he catching on to English easily?
A: In fighting there is a lot of words that just translate easily and you can visually see, like short right or faster. I am trying to learn his language because even when I say things in English, sometimes, it may not compute as fast as when I say it in his language. He does try to learn English as well.
Q: With his height and weight, do you believe we will see Magomedsharipov in another weight-class?
A: Zabit is a big guy, he is 6’2″. I would like him to see him in another weight-class. I think he could even do three weight-classes. He’s a big guy and I hope he will eventually move up. Even though, right now he has no issues with the weight cut for his fights. Edson [Barboza] is a 155 and Zabit makes him look smaller when you see the two of them next to each other.
Henry would go on to give me one final summation of the fighter known as Zabit Magomedsharipov:
He’s not just another fighter, its really special, he’s like family, which makes things much better and makes me want him to succeed much more. Hes a smart kid with a great sense of humor and great friend to everyone. I believe he is the next UFC champion, he has so many variables that go with his success. He has the height, the reach, the skills, he can kick, he can judo, he can transition effortlessly from striking to wrestling to jujitsu. Zabit has got a great chin I have never seen him rocked, and when he does get hit he gets mad and it pushes him forward. His cardio is amazing I don’t think I’ve seen him tired. He can do Anthony Pettis-level stuff on steroids!
As a MMA fan, and some one who follows the sport closely, I have noticed everyone around Magomedsharipov genuinely loves the guy, and wants nothing but the best for him. All his teammates, coaches, and fans believe he deserves to be in the UFC and will be a champion. Which we may see soon. I believe Magomedsharipov has huge potential and we should see him fight for a title fairly soon if he continues his exciting fighting-style. He truly is a fighter to watch.